29 June 2014

Celebrating Summer with a Peppery Arugula Risotto and an Encore of Risotto Cakes

Arugula Risotto
When I think of rice I usually envision something stir fried or steamed from our nearest Asian restaurant.  But then again Italians have been growing rice for a very long time and have developed their own unique ways to prepare it. Rice was introduced to Italy from Arabia via Sicily and parts of the Southern mainland in the late Middle Ages. It was proven best suited to the vast marshy regions of the Po Valley. Here it was enthusiastically adopted by the residents of the Veneto region, Lombardia and Piemonte. Thanks to the Arabians we now have one of the best comfort foods on the planet!!!

The best known Italian rice dish to me is risotto.  It is much easier to prepare than you might think, and is extraordinarily versatile. Making a good risotto is like riding a bicycle. You need to learn how to do it in the beginning and it requires a certain amount of concentration thereafter. Risotto is very sensitive to timing but with a little know how you can make this easy peasy dish perfectly over and over again. It is something that needs to be served immediately and you need to watch and stir it. It is a "labour of love" and the time that is invested in making risotto is well worth it in the end. This is one of Italy's true comfort foods and since I decided I am adopting Italy today (or it is adopting me) this was a perfect muse.

There are many risotto recipes that suit a myriad of taste buds and we love this great Italian dish in all its disguises. The ingredients chosen are very important to the outcome of your dish. Use the best that are available to you.  Risotto is a favourite year round treat around here with recipes like Fresh Herb and Pea Risotto, Zucchini Risotto with Saffron and Shrimp, Buffalo Mozzarella Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil Oil, Seared Pancetta Wrapped Cod with Lemon Risotto, and Spring Lemon Risotto with Asparagus, Fiddleheads and Young Garlic. 

Buying the rice to make a risotto is also very important. Choose short-grained round or semi-round rice; among the best rices for making risotto are Arborio, Vialone Nano, and Carnaroli. Other short-grained rices such as Originario will also work. Long grained rice such as Patna will not, because the grains will stay separate. Nor should you use Minute Rice...wink...wink...

In honour of the first days of Summer I made this one-pot dish on a rainy afternoon.  I had some leftover arugula waiting its turn to shine. Arugula, also known as rocket, is an iron-rich leafy green with a sharp, peppery flavour. The more mature the arugula, the stronger the flavour. So if you love spicy, bitter greens, use fully grown arugula instead of the baby leaves and just tear it into bite-size pieces. A quick blitz in the food processor and the arugula is perfect pea-sized pieces to add to this dish. It comes together in 20 minutes balanced by the saltiness of the cheese and the lemon juice. It is simple yet sophisticated and can be served as a side dish or as the main attraction. The colour alone just screams Summer!!!!  Serve with crusty bread and a glass of young white wine, sit back and enjoy all that life has to offer. 

Then of course if you have any leftovers make risotto cakes the following day!!

Leftover Risotto Cakes

**Arugula Risotto**
based on a recipe from Canadian Living

3 cups (750 mL) sodium-reduced chicken broth or sodium-reduced vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (such as Chardonnay)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/3 cups (325 mL) arborio rice
1-2 cups (750 mL) baby arugula leaves (pulsed in a food processor)
1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon (5 mL) grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon (15 mL) lemon juice
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper

In saucepan, bring broth and 1-1/2 cups water to boil; reduce heat to low and keep simmering.

Meanwhile, in large deep skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat; cook shallots and garlic, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, about 2 minutes.

Add rice, stirring to coat and toast grains, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup wine. Reduce.

Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time and stirring after each addition until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding more, about 20 minutes in total. Rice should be loose and creamy, not mushy, and still slightly firm in centre of grain. Remove from heat.

Stir in arugula, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice and pepper.

Serves 4

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. I love rice, risotto and arugula. This recipe is wonderful!



  2. Beautifully presented risotto Val. I've made risotto only once and I wasn't happy with the results. I'm ready now to get back on the bicycle and try again with your recipe.

    Have a nice week ahead.

  3. I'm grilling salmon this weekend and will serve risotto along with it. Your version with the arugula sounds delicious, Val.

  4. I think the peppery arugula would be lovely in a creamy risotto. Have to try it.

  5. I've never seen a recipe for risotto with arugula - I love it and can't wait to try it myself!

  6. Risotto is one of those dishes that is so impressive, but not as difficult as people think. Which makes it one of my favorites for company

  7. Mouth-waterning post and beautifully and colorful presented dishes. Love the “next day” risotto cakes too.

  8. You know I adore leftover risotto cakes (cold) with my scrambled eggs. I know odd, but so good.

  9. The arugula and lemon sound so good together in this! What a great seasonal risotto.

  10. Risotto cakes, best way to use leftover rice! I would like to taste a risotto with aragula now, it would be my first time :)

  11. Risotto is one of my favorite dishes to experiment with. Arugula is a great add-in. I will definitely try it.

  12. Risotto is a perfect dish to go with summer grilled entrees. This version looks wonderful with the arugula.

  13. I love how the arugula gets almost pureed into the risotto. I'm sure it adds such a nice bite to the creamy rice!

  14. What perfect timing! I have way too much arugula in the garden. Message me if you want some!


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